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Piecing Amsterdam Together

March 13, 1994|LUCY IZON

The first few days in a foreign country can be the toughest for independent travelers. If Amsterdam is your gateway, here's how you can prearrange an economical start.

Through Amsterdam-based Future Line Travel, which was founded by the Youth Hostel Assn. of the Netherlands, independent budget travelers can purchase do-it-yourself packages. These include three nights' accommodations in a youth hostel, three breakfasts, a three-day ticket for public transportation, a pass for free entry to the main museums in Amsterdam (and many museums all over the country), a canal cruise and a dinner in an Indonesian restaurant. The package, which provides accommodations in dormitory rooms, costs about $128, or $113 for those under 19. The youth hostels used are:

* Stadsdoelen Youth Hostel, at Kloveniersburgwal 97. It can be reached by taking a train from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Central Station, then tram 4, 9, 16, 24 or 25 from Central Station to Munt. From there it's a short walk.

* Vondelpark Youth Hostel, at Zandpad 5. Take tram 1, 2 or 5 from Central Station to Leidseplein. It's a short walk from there. The hotel version of the package costs about $200, or $128 for those under 19, for accommodations in a room with two beds. You can reach it by taking tram 2 from Central Station to the Westlandgracht stop, then it's a three-minute walk.

These rates are available until Dec. 31. Guests will need a passport photo for the museum ticket, a sleep sheet to use at the youth hostels (you can rent them at the hostels for $3), and membership in Hostelling International, which you can buy from the Santa Monica Travel Centre, 1434 2nd St., Santa Monica (tel. 310-393-3413), before leaving home.

Amsterdam, founded more than 700 years ago, is a popular European gateway with a youthful atmosphere.

It's alive with street theater, outdoor cafes and pubs. There are hundreds of miles of canals and renowned museums.

The Netherlands is an ideal country for cyclists. There are thousands of miles of bike paths separate from the traffic. Bicycles can be rented in every city and town, usually at the rail station, for $2.50 to $4 a day.

Through Future Line Travel, Holland Bike Holiday packages, which cost $298, include a brand-new bicycle (male or female model, no gears) that you can keep, plus vouchers for seven nights in youth hostels in the Netherlands (with breakfasts), a youth hostel membership (valid only in the Netherlands), a double pannier bag, tire repair kit and an information kit with a road map.

The bicycle can be picked up at the Heemskerk Youth Hostel, a medieval castle on the rail line about 18 1/2 miles northwest of Amsterdam.

For more information on these packages, other cycling/hotel programs, sailing weeks (no sailing experience required) or one-week parachute-jumping courses, contact Future Line Travel, Prof. Tulpstraat 2, NL-1018 HA Amsterdam; from U.S. telephones 011-31-20-622-2859, fax 011- 31-20-639-0199.

For more information on travel to the Netherlands, contact the Netherlands Board of Tourism, 9841 Airport Blvd., Los Angeles 90045; tel. (312) 819-0300.

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